We visited the Turner prize 2011 show at the Baltic, Newcastle last weekend. Loved it. I can’t decide between the exuberant wallpaper and bath bombs, or Shaw’s sublimely morose paintings. Glad I’m not on the judging panel.
Walking into Karla Black’s installation, we are faced with sheets of polythene liberally smeared with paint which has dried and flaked off, the flakes of colour piled up on the floor. It is like walking into a magical grotto. Glimpsed through these painterly curtains, you can see the sculptural mounds and caves of what looks like crumpled wallpaper liberally coloured with bath bombs (judging by the number of bath bombs lying around). The effect is unexpectedly joyous, stimulating a bubble of sudden giddiness. I want to get down on my hands and knees and scribble. I want to put my hands in the piles of pastel dust and smear them around the floor. Most of all, I want to PLAY. My husband was affected similarly, he thought it was great fun.
By contrast, George Shaw’s paintings inspire a more sombre emotion. The paintings themselves are sublime, with their perfect composition and rendering of sub-urban Tile Hill in Coventry. The enamel paint gives them a soft shiny gloss that makes the surface as perfect as china. But the paintings seem to hint at loss, whether loss of people, places or a lost childhood it is up to us to interpret. There is a good review with pictures on the Guardian website.